Here’s the next installment of the review of The Serpent currently showing on the BBC in the UK. It is set in the 1970s and based on the real-life case of the French serial killer, Charles Sobhraj.
Episode 3 revolves almost exclusively around Dominique. Stopping off in Thailand on his way back from a gap year in Australia, Dominique is seeking adventure and just wants to meet new people. We see him in a bar struggling to write a letter to his family explaining his reasons for his sudden change of plan. Enter Charles Sobhraj. Dominique soon falls under his spell and after a nasty bout of stomach pains, Sobhraj takes him under his wing and back to his home to recover.
Next we skip forward a few months to the Knippenberg residence. Herman has tracked down the witness to Sobhraj’s crimes, a neighbour Nadine. She reveals the extent of the crimes she thinks Sobhraj and his girlfriend have committed, but she is worried for her own safety.
Jumping back in time, Dominique’s “illness” continues and Alain and Monique look after him and administer “medicine” to him. After the pet monkey drinks Dominique’s medicine and dies, Dominique begins to wonder if he is being deliberately poisoned and whether he is being kept against his will.
An increasingly paranoid Dominique confides in Nadine and her husband, Remi. There are some genuinely tense moments in the next half hour as Dominique tries to escape Sobhraj’s clutches. You will be left guessing right up to the last minute.
Much of the action in episode 4 happens in Nepal. Charles loses a high-stakes game of cards and intimates that he and Marie-Andree should “look for more money”. When Marie-Andree has serious doubts about their relationship, Charles forces her to show her loyalty in a bizarre and extreme manner. We also see a different side to Ajay, Sobhraj’s ruthless accomplice, when he meets a young back-packer.
Back with the Knippenbergs, Nadine is missing and her husband Remi is distraught. He rushes round to the Sobhraj house and finds Nadine, thankfully unharmed. They make their excuses and leave.
Herman realises the international dimensions of Sobhraj’s crimes, and by looking through old English-speaking newspapers finds that the Dutch couple were not the only victims. However, his investigations are frowned upon by his boss at the Dutch embassy.
Herman persuades Nadine to gather evidence about the Sobhrajs, photographs of them and of any belongings that she thinks have belonged to their victims. The Knippenbergs spend a nail-biting day waiting for Nadine to return with the evidence.
The episode becomes progressively darker and more terrifying as Sobhraj continues his destructive trail across Asia cashing in on the suffering of his latest victims, but with the help of the Australian embassy Herman may finally have enough evidence for the police investigation.